Turning the garden into a sustainable oasis where animals, plants, and people all feel equally at home isn’t all that difficult. A garden expert reveals how to conserve natural resources in the garden and attract as many animal inhabitants as possible. Here the tips on how to turn garden into a sustainable oasis :
Insect Mortality Has Startled Many People
The term “sustainability” originally comes from forestry: only as much wood may be used as can grow back. The concept doesn’t translate easily to a garden. “A garden is not a nature reserve,” says Melanie Konrad, NABU garden expert and graduate engineer for landscape and open space planning. “Gardeners design it according to their wishes, to spend their leisure time in it or to grow ornamental plants and fruit and vegetables.
But gardens are also habitats for plants and animals. That’s why we should preserve it as a natural habitat and work with nature in it, not against it.” According to her, many species and ecosystems are doing badly. This has been made clear, for example, by insect mortality – citizens’ petitions to save the bees, for example, have brought the problem to the attention of many people.
“It’s important that animals like insects and birds have a habitat in gardens, too,” Konrad says. “Animals migrate into our settlements – for example, the blackbird, which is originally a forest bird. Our gardens are important oases for them. The more diverse and natural they are, the better.”
Conserving Natural Resources In The Garden
For Konrad, sustainability in the garden starts with the lawn. “A short-shorn lush green lawn is not sustainable, ” she says. “Resources have to be constantly put into it: It has to be mowed regularly, watered and fertilized during drought, and the results don’t last long on their own.”
Better, she says, is a flower lawn mix, for example. In addition to grasses, this also contains flowering wild perennials and herbs that provide pollen and nectar. It can also be walked on, requires less maintenance, and adapts better to climatic conditions.
How To Save Energy Costs
Another alternative: a flower meadow. “I only have to mow this once or twice a year, I have less work and can enjoy the flowers and the insects.”
Regional and reused materials save resources, transportation, and energy costs. According to Konrad, shrubbery cuttings can be used, for example, for a brushwood pile or a Benjes hedge made of dead wood, garden and kitchen waste for compost, old bricks for a seating area, and an old zinc bathtub as a planter. “It also gives the garden a personal touch,” she says.
Encourage Soil Life Instead Of Constantly Fertilizing
Owners can also make some changes toward sustainability when dealing with the garden’s soil. “Soil stores water and CO2 provides nutrients for plants and is a habitat for countless organisms.
In one’s garden, one should do without pesticides and artificial fertilizers and better strengthen the soil life. This does not endanger living organisms or groundwater and at the same time promotes a good soil structure and the build-up of humus,” says the expert.
Loosen The Soil Instead Of Constantly Digging It Up
In the vegetable patch, for example, mixed crops maintain soil fertility – such as crop rotations, green manure plants, and organic fertilizers like horn shavings or compost. Covering the soil with plants or mulch made from organic material prevents it from drying out and unwanted wild weeds from sprouting. In addition, the soil should not be constantly dug up, but rather loosened from time to time.
On herbaceous borders, the foliage can remain in the autumn as fodder for earthworms and CO. completely should do the hobby gardeners without plastic films, chemical and synthetic means, and on peat.
“Valuable bogs are destroyed for the extraction of peat for potting soil,” says Konrad. “Gardeners should therefore improve their soil more with compost and rely less on plants that need acidic soil, such as rhododendrons or azaleas. Our climate should be worth that to us, though.”
Plant Selection Is Important – Also For The Animals
Plant selection also plays a role in a nature-oriented garden. “To do this, you should first take a close look at what the soil is like – for example, cold or not, dry or moist – and whether the bed tends to be sunny or mostly shady,” Konrad advises. Based on this info, plants can then be selected that suit the location. “Then they also feel directly comfortable, less water and less fertilizer are needed. As a gardener, I can look at what is developing well and only intervene in a guiding way.”
These plants also cope better with the local climate than exotics. Konrad recommends primarily native wild perennials and regional fruit and vegetable varieties from organic cultivation. According to Konrad, many different flowering plants that bear flowers alternately throughout the year also help animal garden inhabitants to find food: “For early-flying bumblebees, for example, these are snowdrops, and for garden birds, they are shrubs that bear berries. Flowering plants also attract butterflies, beetles, flies, and bees, which are not only important pollinators of our crops but also food for other animals, such as hedgehogs, lizards or bats.”
Create Further Habitats For The Animals
In addition to the right plants, the garden expert advises using small structures to attract as many animals as possible to the garden. In general, one should not tidy up the garden too much for this. “Animals need hiding places from enemies and protected nesting and hibernation sites.
These can be rock piles for lizards or brushwood piles and thorny hedges or shrubs,” she says. A pond, dead wood, or open ground areas are also good additions, she says, as are additional nesting sites for insects and birds.
Control Pests Through Animal Diversity
With animal diversity, pest problems are often taken care of as well: ground beetles eat slug eggs, aphids and caterpillars are eaten by birds, and aphids are also on the menu for ladybugs and lacewings.
Balcony owners can also design their little refuge close to nature. “There’s a lot you can do here, especially with plant selection,” Konrad says. “There are many beautiful native perennials, berry bushes, or climbing plants that also overwinter on the balcony, as well as early bloomers such as wintering, bluestem, and grape hyacinth that can be staked in the fall. That way, you don’t have to replant the balcony every year.”
In the tubs and pots, you should also rely on a peat-free substrate. And even on a balcony, you can create your humus from kitchen scraps with a worm bin. For balconies, it is important to install insect-friendly warm-yellow LED lighting and to minimize disturbing artificial brightness as much as possible – for example, with timers.
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